Sunday, June 17, 2018

Jagger by Marc Spitz

Having read numerous tales of the Stones over the last four or five decades, there is not much that is new to learn about any one of them. Mick Jagger, of course, has been scrutinized, fetishized and fantasized probably more than any other pop culture icon of the last century. Marc Spitz (writer of books on Bowie and the LA Punk Scene, not the Olympic swimmer) tells the tale of Mick through a pop culture lens and with interviews with contemporaries and friends. The early days are pretty straight forward: Spitz talks of the filming of the TAMI Show movie, with the obvious comparisons between James Brown and Jagger (who was blatantly attempting to mimic Brown), the "we piss anywhere" "scandal", Mick's girlfriends as social climbing stepping stones, the drug busts, the uncertainly or how and how much to get involved with the youth revolution, the Performance movie, the 70's celebrity hob-knobbing and all the rest. He does highlight events like Truman Capote's involvement (or lack thereof) in the '72 American tour, Jagger singing on Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" and his participation in the Rutles movie with chapters of their own.

Of course, the 80's saw Mick investing himself in MTV and an attempted solo career, lots of gossip and girl chasing, media fights with Richards, and championing - despite being jealous of - bands like Living Color and Guns'n'Roses. There's a chapter on his later acting career (which never gained much critical or commercial gain to speak of) and of his solo work with Rick Ruben, including the unreleased blues record he did with LA's Red Devils, as well as one on the conflicts associated with his knighthood.

The subject matter will always be fascinating but did we really need another book on Mick Jagger? No, not really, but it is fine for what it is. Absolutely not essential, but it keeps your attention as light reading.

Friday, June 15, 2018

RIP Matt "Guitar" Murphy

Matt “Guitar” Murphy Dies: Blues Brothers Guitarist And Noted Sideman Was 88 

RIP Nick Knox

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Don't have the details but it has been confirmed that Nick Knox has passed at only 60 years old. I can't believe that he was younger than me - he seemed timeless and ageless.

His time in the Cramps absolutely produced their finest music. His playing style and visual style were as vital to the band as anyone's.

Their music has been the soundtrack for everyone even slightly hip for the last four decades and will be for years to come.

He recently started DJ'ing and enjoying that. I hope that he has been diggin' life lately. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

recommended gigs

Friday June 15 - birthday celebrations for Nikki and Jesse Del Quadro at the Double Down
Friday June 15 - Bogtrotters Union at McMullen's Irish Pub
Friday June 15 - Stagnetti's Cock, Lambs to Lions, the Pluralses, Chainsaw Fight, Intoxicated Rejects at the Dive Bar

Monday June 18 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki

Friday June 22 - Slim Jim Phantom with Shanda and the Howlers and more at Cornish Pasty

Saturday June 23 - Negative Nancys, Strange Mistress, Stereo Assault, Bounty Hunter Brothers at Cornish Pasty

Sunday June 24 - Shanda and the Howlers hosting LV Blues Jam night at Saddle'n'Spurs

Monday June 25 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki

Friday June 29 - the Psyatics, Illicitor, Water Landing and Better Broken at the Double Down
Friday June 29 - Fuzz Solow with Fantastic Negrito at the Bunkhouse

Saturday June 30 - Mister Moonbeam, Paige Overton, Midnight Disease at the Velveteen Rabbit

Friday July 13 - the New Waves at the Golden Tiki

Monday July 16 - Messy Jessie's birthday at the Rusty Spur with Chris Moinichen, Brandon Madejek and Seth Turner

Thurs July 19 - Moon Darling, Indigo Kidd, Psyatics, Laissez Fairs at the Bunkhouse
Thursday July 19 - Courtney's Birthday Bash at Evel Pie with the Negative Nancys, Jerk! and Shocktroopers

Friday July 27 - Water Landing, War Twins, Mirror Hollow, Pet Tigers, the Scorched at the Beauty Bar
Friday July 27 - the Implosions, Danger Inc, the Pluralses at the Huntridge Tavern

Sunday Aug 19 - the Hellacopters play Psycho Las Vegas at the Joint with lots more bands

Friday Aug 24 - Jack White at the Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan

Saturday Aug 25 - Lita Ford at the Cannery

Friday Aug 31 - the Mapes, the Sheiks of Neptune at the Dive Bar

Thursday Sept 6 - Sunday Sept 9 - the Las Vegas Tiki Weekender at the Thunderbird Motel with Thee Swank Bastards, Durango 66, Franks'n'Deans and more

Friday Sept 7 - Hot Tuna at Brooklyn Bowl

Saturday Oct 27, 2018 - the Gentlemen of Four Outs at the Bunkhouse

Saturday Nov 17 - Ghost at the Joint

What have I forgotten? Lemme know

Buffalo Springfield - Retrospective - The Best Of

Of course, I was familiar with Buffalo Springfield's mega-hit "For What It's Worth", but I was more familiar with the individuals members' later works (especially Stills and Young, naturally) than the other Springfield tracks. This Best Of compilation, originally released in 1969 shortly after the band broke up, gives a good overview of the group and some of their finer tracks.

Naturally, the hit is the opener here and still sounds great and, unfortunately, timely to this day. Somewhat odd for a Top Forty number, with its sparse arrangement and Young's uncharacteristically light guitar work interspersed with the melody lines, but an undeniably catchy chorus and a great message. Young's much rawer'n'rockin' "Mr. Soul" follows, one of his great ones, with cool lyrics and hot guitar playing. Stills' contributes some country-pop in "Sit Down, I Think I Love You" which alternates jangly guitars with some tougher fuzz and Richie Furay's "Kind Woman" is a damn purty country ballad, reminiscent of what he would go on to do in Poco. "Bluebird" is a mid-tempo Stills' rocker, with some excellent lead acoustic guitar work (Young works in some electric work around this), a huge harmony bridge, and even a banjo breakdown - kinda throwing in the kitchen sink on this one! Side one concludes with Young's gorgeous "On the Way Home", which I always knew as a solo acoustic track, so it was fun to see how he worked in the entire band on this one and made it a bit less introspectively quiet - this version even has horns on it!

For some reason Young gave up the lead vocals on his "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing" to Furay, while the band takes an odd polka beat for this, which still somehow works. Speaking of kitchen sinks, "Broken Arrow" is their most advanced production piece - multiple sections, sound effects, strings, and even a snippet of a live take on "Mr. Soul" - and it is slightly disjointed, although Young still provides some heart-tugging melodies. A bit more straight-forward is Still's "Rock and Roll Woman". although he tosses in a few changes and layers of harmonies on this mid-tempo folk-rocker, Young's "I Am a Child" sounds like his later, harmonica-led folk numbers, back to Stills for "Go and Say Goodbye" which almost sounds like a Michael Nesmith tune, and the finale is another Young big production (lots of strings) ballad, "Expecting to Fly".

This band certainly remained close to their folk and country roots and were less of 60's rock'n'roll combo, which is what gives them their own unique sound. If you like any of the main players' later works, most likely you'll dig this cool collection, as well.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Foghat - Foghat

In 1972 the AM radio was filling with singer/ songwriters, a bit of cool soul and lots of bad pop. When you would actually hear a rock'n'roll band filled with electric guitars, it was a true thrill. That's what Foghat provided when their head-bobbin', blues-rock take on Muddy Waters' "I Just Wanna Make Love To You" would come on the air. True, this was more of an FM radio staple, but gawdam if it still isn't a fun romp through this number - yeah, it's not nearly as sexy as Muddy's or as frantic as the Stones, but this is 70's rock'n'roll. Two guitars, bass'n'drums, runnin' through blues-based rock'n'roll - in this case with cool, twin lead guitars and Lonesome Dave's excellent vocals! This put the group on the map and was the impetus for their later superstardom.

Coming from Savoy Brown (where Dave, drummer Roger and bassist Tony apprenticed before grabbing Rod Price and forming this combo), the boys were steeped in the British blues scene, where a number of cats were finding success updating the blues with loud'n'heavy, hard rock arrangements, as they pulled off on the opening hit song. With some poundin' piano and melodic guitar licks, "Trouble Trouble", an alcoholic's plea,  comes off as a modernized 50's rocker, "Leavin' Again" has intertwining riffs and a somewhat slower, cool, almost funky, groove, "Fool's Hall of Fame" chugs along with a hip, pop-blues feel, and "Sarah Lee" is a bit more of a mid-tempo, tuneful, guitar-pickin' number, but still with a nice vibe.

They continue with almost the same feel, although a bit more drivin', in "Highway Killing Me" (dig Price's slide guitar work here), and then move into high gear for a rip-roarin', piano pumpin', riff-tastic take on "Maybelline" (spelled wrong, funnily enough, which I never noticed before). Another ode to drink'n'poverty, "A Hole to Hide In", is chock-full of hard-edged guitars, minor chords and blues riffs (almost like later Humble Pie), followed by the closer, a tremelo'd, electric-piano-led ballad, "Gotta Get to Know You", which has such a catchy quality that you're drawn into it, like being immersed in a rock'n'roll pool.

I know that these cats get a lot of flack due to the simplistic nature of the songs and the lyrics, but I'll be damned if this isn't just good time rock'n'roll that I come back to on a regular basis.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Clawhammer - Get Yer Za Za Yout

This 1990 cassette-only release on Marc Mylar's Trigon Records was a recording of Clawhammer's live broadcast on Andrea 'Enthal's "Twelve O'Clock Rock" show on KPFK FM, Los Angeles, CA August 5, 1990. The band was at the peak of their power at the time with the incredible twin guitar attack of Jon Wahl and Chris Bagarozzi (two of the best players in town), backed by the rhythm section of bassist Rob Walther and drummer extraordinaire, Bob Lee. With equal measures blistering Detroit rock'n'roll and Captain Beefheart, this band tore up unsuspecting LA clubs and eventually signed with Epitaph and then Interscope. Unfortunately, their popularity was limited with the masses and they broke up in 2000. Everyone still plays and they have even done a reunion show sometime in the last few years.

Opening with the power-chord warning not to mess with Jon's girl, "Shell Shocked" blasts your mind right away with its quiet/loud changes, twin lead attack and odd time signatures. This segues right into the hyper speed "Sick Fish Belly Up" and, after a breather of a second or so, "Poor Robert", another hard-edged number that breaks down into a dual-guitar bridge (love their guitar interplay) and a monologue about Wild Man Fisher (at least that's how I remember the story). Continuing in the tale-telling mode, we get a story about Jon's giant of a brother, "Brick" Wahl, in "Brother Brick Says", another frantic rock'n'roller filled with righteous riffs and cooly controlled feedback. A quieter twin guitar interlude starts "Don't Walk Away", which then turns into a head smasher - crashing cymbals and bashing chords galore - filled with dynamics and Chris and Jon trading vocals. Just to show that they were capable of covering/arranging anything, they pull out Eno's "Blank Frank"  (elsewhere they did Beefheart's "Moonlight on Vermont") and then more of their own madness with riff-centric "Petri Dish" that concludes with a wild guitar orgy. An ode to their broken down vehicles, the frenzied "Car Down Again" (listing all of the ailments during a wild build up) precedes the A-side closer, "Naked", an intense, dramatic stomper, again packed with flying licks, heavy dynamics and stupendous soloing.

Flip the cassette over to side B and you get a 3-chord Detroit-rockin' monster, "Bullet In My Head", a convoluted "Papa's Got Us Tied Up in Knots" with its multiples time changes and starts'n'stops, and a torrid take on "Final Solution", with Chris singing and playing it with a manic intensity. Chris also takes lead vocals for the cacophonous "Drop II", "Succotash" is a steamy stew of guitar'n'harmonica work, "Three Fifteen" continues with more catchy, accented noise, and they finish the set with their take on Patti Smith's rockin' "Pumping (My Heart)".

As a guitarist, it was always a pleasure to watch Jon'n'Chris play off of each other with waves of feedback'n'fuzz - they were probably by favorite two guitar team in town at the time. I loved these early songs, as well and this is a great document of their talent - raw enough to keep the excitement and edge of a live show with good sound and wild performances. A number of bands released live records from their KPFK performances due to the sound quality and this is another great one. Find it!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Satchmo - My Life in New Orleans - Louis Armstrong

Found this one at the local thrift store and decided to see what I could learn about the legendary horn-man. This is an autobiography written about his early days in New Orleans, growing up poor, being tossed in a boys home where he learns to play coronet, and then trying to help his mom and sister and young cousin survive during the war by doing whatever work he can - as a musician or delivering coal, among other positions, and describing all of the characters he grew up with. Due to his location and monetary status, these characters consisted of plenty of pimps, prostitutes, and gamblers as well as musicians. It's kind of funny how nonchalantly he speaks of these people, as if everyone ran with these types - he even talks of trying to be a pimp himself! Not what you would expect from the man who sang "Hello Dolly!" and "What a Wonderful World"! He ends up marrying and "reforming" a prostitute and he continues to play and learn the ropes until eventually he joins King Oliver's band in Chicago, where his career takes off and where he ends the book.

With only a grade school education, this isn't high literary art by any means, but it is an engaging story told in the hip slang of the day. The introduction, by Dan Morgenstern, explains some of Armstrong's language mangling and misinterpretations that I certainly would not have understood otherwise. But, regardless, I truly enjoyed this story of the early days of New Orleans jazz.

X - Beyond and Back

This is another release that I am astonished to discover that I haven't written about already. I have been a huge fan of the band since I first saw them at the Hong Kong Cafe in 1979 and have watched them throughout their career in varying line-ups and degrees of popularity. They will always be the defining band of the Los Angeles/Hollywood scene - so much so that I think it has hindered/limited their appeal to some extent.

This is an anthology that the group compiled consisting of tracks from their "official" releases, to live cuts to demos to singles to remixes. This 45 song (!), 2-CD release is jam-packed with a combination of their best-known songs (often from a different release than the known version) and tunes that have never seen the light of day before.

Of course, it opens with the quintessential X song, "Los Angeles" (from the Slash records release of their first album) and you can immediately see that they were far beyond most LA "punk" bands in the quality of their songwriting and production right from the start. A live "The World's a Mess" follows, then a rehearsal of something called "Yr Ignition", a demo of "Year One", the official "Hungry Wolf", the single version of "We're Desperate" and on and on...There's unreleased numbers like "Heater" and "Delta 88", raw demos of "Soul Kitchen" and "Johnny Hit and Run Pauline" (that overdoses on vocal reverb), a powerful, live "Universal Corner", "I'm Coming Over" from Live at the Masque, and single mixes of "White Girl" and "Riding With Mary", among others. (And there's a funny "hidden track" if you let disc one play long enough.)

CD 2 incorporates much of the same type of thing - live cuts, demos, etc. - starting with a high quality demo of "The New World", the single mix of "Breathless" and "Wild Thing" (wow, the latter sure sounds 80's!), a pretty different rough mix of "What's Wrong With Me", a few tunes from their offshoot, the Knitters, really nice demos of "See How We Are" and "Fourth of July", there's some demo fragments, "Burning House of Love" from the Unclogged album, a hot-as-Hades demo of "Devil Doll", and plenty more before concluding with an 1997 mix of their incredible "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts" that finishes with a ferocious guitar solo. (This disc's "hidden track" is the instrumental backing track of "Hungry Wolf".)

Such a great band - highly original, supremely talented musicians, intelligent, poetic lyrics and damn catchy songs. A number of goosebumps inducing moments here. Essential for any fan!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Wild Evel and the Trashbones, the Laissez Fairs, Los Yayaz at the Bunkhouse, Saturday June 9, 2018

Garage shows are not very common in Las Vegas, so when an esteemed Austrian garage combo came to town, I wanted to check it out! With the added bonus of 60's-styled group from Salt Lake City, of all places, this was a show to see!

SLC's Los Yayaz opened the show with a set of wild garage rock'n'roll in the style of West Coasters like the Untold Fables and the Gravediggers V. Raw'n'ragged (in a good way) covers of classics like "The Hustler", "I Can Tell", "I'm a Man" and a hyper-speed take on "Goo Goo Muck" mixed with numbers like "Cry Baby" and "The Shadow" (sounding similar to the Gravediggers' "Spooky"). The line-up was somewhat unusual with guitar, bass, drums, vocals and puppeteer! The puppet master had a variety of puppets for different songs - male, female, skeleton and even a Lux Interior look-alike! Certainly a change of pace that captured the crowd's attention! Deg them a lot!

Locals the Laissez Fairs were up next, providing a soundtrack of heavy pop-psych from John and Cromm Fallon, Joe Lawless and Aaron Archer. The band has been gigging and recording a lot lately and their sound has evolved into a harder-edged, although still with plenty of jangly pop and psych tendencies. 

Austria's Wild Evel and the Trashbones are a theatrical garage combo with a big dose of Screaming Lord Sutch and a hip guitar-bass-drums-keyboard backing band. The sound was loud'n'ferocious and the frontman was a non-stop, dancin' wildman who constantly interacted with the audience, ran through the crowd, danced on the bar and lots more. The rhythm section was super hot'n'tight, the guitar was filled with fuzz and the keys really added to the sound with its 60's tones mixed with enough effects to keep it varied and somewhat trippy. With the help of the Darts' guitarist, Michelle, they hosted a Limbo Dance contest as they played a variation on Link Wray's "Comanche", which, unfortunately, most of the crowd did not understand, other than the well-deserved winner (sorry I didn't get a good photo of her). The guitarist took lead vocals on one number (and broke his guitar on another), they performed an instrumental so that Evel could change his jacket off stage (only his jacket - not sure what the point of that was) and they blasted through a lengthy set of tunes like "Diggin' My Grave", "Where You Gonna Go", "Telling Lies", "I'm an Ape Man", "Ain't It Hard", "Outlaw", a cover from the Satelliters (a German garage team) and, appropriately, "Vegas on Fire". The band loosened up as the set went on and became more animated, as well. Silly, good times!

Thanks again to the Bunkhouse and DIrty Rock'n'Roll Dance Party for hosting this cool garage-themed night. From the amount of people that showed up, I think there is a call for garage rock'n'roll in Vegas! Let's get more bands happening out here!